Modernt & samtida
To be sold at Uppsala Auktionskammare’s Important Sale: Modern & Contemporary 18 – 20 May 2022
Lot 306 André Lhote (France 1885‑1962). ”Proues”. Signed A. Lhote lower left. Oil on canvas, 59 x 80 cm.
Executed in 1921.
The authenticity of this lot has kindly been confirmed by Dominique Bermann Martin. This work will be included in the forthcoming André Lhote catalogue raisonné.
500.000 – 700.000 SEK
€ 48.000 – 67.000
A Swedish private collection.
Nordiska Bokhandelns konsthall, Stockholm, October 1922, cat. no. 9.
Alexandre Mercereau, André Lhote, 1921, compare to a watercolour p. 39.
A native of Bordeaux in southwest of France, André Lhote depicted its bustling port several times throughout his career. Among his most important works are his 1920s port views where his own form of cubism is represented, such as in the present work ”Proues” from 1921. ”Proues” was exhibited at Nordiska bokhandeln in 1921 and has remained in the same private Swedish collection for many years. It presents a wonderful opportunity to acquire a work depicting the harbour of Lhote’s beloved Bordeaux.
Initially inspired by traditional masters such as Leonardo da Vinci, Jean-Auguste-Dominique Ingres and Eugène Delacroix, the French artist André Lhote encountered his greatest inspiration during his first visit to Paris in 1907. At the Salon d’Automne, the vibrant works of Paul Cézanne had just been presented to the public and the young André Lhote was immediately struck by the colourful and almost luminous compositions. Today regarded as one of the most influential post-impressionist painters, Cézanne formed a bridge between the late 19th century movement Impressionism and the early 20th century Cubism. André Lhote successfully combined movements using the angular features of Cubism together with the bright colours of Post-impressionism. Both an artist and an important art critic, André Lhote qualified his own way of painting as “ambiant cubism” and declared: “To use colour well is as difficult as for a fish to pass from water to air on earth”.
Born in 1885 in Bordeaux in France, André Lhote learned woodcarving from the age of 12 and trained to become a sculptor, before he enrolled at the École des Beaux-Arts in Bordeaux. He painted on his spare time, influenced by Paul Gauguin and Cézanne, and eventually moved to Paris. At the beginning of the 20th century, Paris was flourishing with life and attracted artists from all over the world who wanted to educate themselves and seek inspiration from the many prominent galleries and museums. André Lhote fell into the influential artist group Section d’Or, which included artists such as Marcel Duchamp, Jean Metzinger and the poet Guillaume Apollinaire. In 1910 after fours years in Paris, he held his first solo exhibition at the Galerie Druet and a few years later he presented ten works at Section d’Or’s 1912 Salon. In contrast to contemporary operating artists Pablo Picasso and Georges Braque, who were fully committed to the broken up forms of Cubism, Lhote retained elements of representation and Classicism in his paintings and continued to do so even in his later works.
The young André Lhote settled down in a studio where he could devote himself fully to painting as well as indulging in the captivating life of Paris. Even after the outbreak of World War I, Paris was thriving of life, creativity and optimism. Lhote was however drafted to the military and he served in the French army until 1917, which interrupted his work. Instead of devoting himself to painting during these troubling years, he taught at Académie Notre-Dame des Champs 1918-1920 and later on at other art schools in Paris, including his own school Académie André Lhote which he founded in Montparnasse in 1922. A considerable number of painters enrolled in Lhote’s art school from all over the world and his teaching skills, according to the art historian René Huyghe, were comparable to ”a singing siren”. Despite his popularity among his pupils, Lhote refused to call himself a teacher and alongside teaching continued to paint and exhibit. He became one of the Cubist artists supported by Léonce Rosenberg, one of the most influential art dealers of the 20th century. ”Proues” dates from 1921, depicting close-up bows and sterns facing each other in the port of Bordeaux.
The port of Bordeaux became a recurring motif in Lhote’s oeuvre and he explored the bustling port in a number of works during his lifetime. It was a busy place where he could sit for hours, carefully observing the workers by the pier and the large ships sailing in from the sea outside of France. Central in the present work are the two ships decked in front of one another, showing a stern and a bow. An earlier version of this composition was sold at Christie’s 7 May 2014 lot 297, ”Le Port de Bordeaux” from 1917. In 2015, Sotheby’s sold one of the most important works by the artist ever to appear at auction, ”Port de Bordeaux” from 1911, previously in the collection of Swedish artist and collector Georg Pauli. Lhote maintained his own style of Cubism over the years and returned to the same subject several times, although his colour palette turned slightly cooler in the 1920s. The present painting is executed in vibrant colours, such as pink, grey and different shades of blue, and bursts with energy. ”Each motif confers upon the painting only what is appropriate to the expression: as soon as it has communicated the essential it steps aside to make room for the neighbouring element… [which is] crucial to the rhythmic composition of the painting” (cited in Anatole Jakovsky, André Lhote, 48 reproductions commentées par le peintre, Paris, 1947, pp. 251-267. Translated from the French). ■